Sunday, February 04, 2007 India India

Saying our goodbyes

The legendary Stanly [Enlarge]
  Two of the excellent waiters at Palm Gardens Restaurant. [IMG_0942]
Frankie and Archie [Enlarge]

It's time to leave Goa and head back to the real India. An old Portuguese colony, Goa has been host to European incomers for centuries, and the culture, architecture and even gene pool of the place are a strange mixture of India and southern Europe.

We've said goodbye to some of the local characters that we have met during our brief stay. Firstly there is the living legend himself, Stanly. He brings his unique brand of live music to the Palm Garden Restaurant every Friday night, playing and singing his perfectly blended repertoire of European pop songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s (and even a few classics from Take That), and traditional Goan music. All of it played on a Yamaha synthesizer. He even takes requests, as long as they are within his normal repertoire! It seems that every week, there is someone in the audience who was there the previous week and is able to request a song that they know he can do. We were honoured to continue the tradition on the second and third Fridays that we saw him perform. We requested Hello by Lionel Richie, and Karma Chameleon by Culture Club, because they were the only songs that we could remember him playing the previous week.

Then there were the waiters at Palm Gardens, Archie, Frankie and the other one whose name we never found out. Archie is the most outgoing of the three, and has an amusing or tragic anecdote for every occasion. The highlight had to be his tale of how he dated a pretty girl from Kerala for four years who turned out to be a boy called John.

One night Glenn decided he had to try some of the local Goan firewater, Feni. It comes in two types: Caju Feni (from the juice of the cashew apple) and Palm Feni (from the sap of the coconut palm). Glenn decided to try the Palm Feni, as he had no idea what the differences were, and he had to pick one. Archie recommended taking it with a mixer such as lime soda, since it is quite harsh neat. The drink arrived. It tasted similar to how we imagine petrol would taste, only with more of a kick. It was the first drink that Glenn has ever been unable to finish. Afterwards Archie gleefully informed Glenn that it was a good job he didn't try the Caju Feni, because it's a man's drink whereas the Palm stuff is for girls!

Finally we have said our farewells to local fisherman Sebby, who in between tending his nets every afternoon, sells trips out to see the dolphins. He is a true gentleman and even after he had relieved us of our money (without ripping us off, too) he made a point of coming over for a chat if he saw us on the beach. A great guy.

Tomorrow we fly out of Goa's Dabolim airport to India's capital, New Delhi. We hope that Delhi is cleaner than Mumbai, but from what we've read and heard, we fear we might be in for a rude awakening. It is way up in the north of the country too, so the climate will not be as friendly as the one we have become used to in Benaulim.